November 19, 2001

Before And After

Corporate Synergy

The amount of time these shows devote to selling things raises a bigger question about corporate strategy and synergy: To what extent do the morning shows peddle products from their parent companies versus products from other companies?

Each of the networks is now owned by a conglomerate, and the list of properties in each corporation offers an array of possibilities for cross promotion that, as they got deep into the list, dazzled the researchers.

Whose products were promoted?
(June & October)
 
AOL/TIME WARNER 4.2% 7.3% 8.1%
DISNEY 21.1 4.9 2.3
VIACOM 7 26.8 9.3
NBC/GE 1.4 0 11.6
COMBINATION W/NO PARENT 0 8.5 3.5
OTHER 66.2 52.4 65.1
TOTAL 100 100 100

CBS is owned by Viacom, whose holdings range from MTV, Simon & Schuster book publishers, Paramount studios, to the UPN network and beyond. ABC is owned by Disney, whose holdings include Disney Studios, Miramax, 80% of ESPN, Talk magazine and much more. NBC, on the other hand, is owned by General Electric, a vast conglomerate that makes everything from light bulbs to jet engines.

The study found ownership makes a difference. While each program gave time to products from other companies, the network mornings shows did more stories about their own parent company's wares than they did about any other single company—especially their media competitors. In the 20 days examined in June and October, Disney products were most likely to appear on ABC, Viacom products on CBS and GE products on NBC.

In fact, CBS was nearly twice as likely to carry Viacom products than ABC and NBC combined.

Of the 82 product stories aired on The Early Show, more than a quarter (27%) involved Viacom products.

These ranged from interviews with contestants on such CBS shows as "Big Brother" and "Survivor: Africa," to performances by Dream, a group touring with the summer concert series sponsored by MTV, to interviews with the stars of Paramount movies.

On ABC's Good Morning America, somewhat fewer (21%) of its product stories were Disney owned, though still more than it aired about either GE or Viacom products or anyone else's.

Some might not expect General Electric to see The Today Show as an outlet for its products in the same way as a media conglomerate might. And the numbers are lower. Still, 12% of the 86 product stories on The Today Show were owned by either GE (in one case equipment for cancer treatment) or by NBC itself.